Divergence Eve aired in 2003. It was created by Tsukumo Takumi and produced by Radix before the studio shut down in 2006. I don’t know what to expect from it. I’ve never reviewed a Radix work before. The only Radix production I’m even vaguely familiar with is Amazing Nurse Nanako and, I have to say, that does not inspire confidence. But that also came out three-four years before this one and most studios have their good and bad moments. So, let’s see if Divergence Eve is worth looking into.
We open with a group of buxom women, and one flat-chested android, being briefed before getting sent in robot mechs to fight some kind of bizarre CG monster. We see one, Misaki, in some kind of pod attached to a bunch of cables while also being on the battlefield, somehow. Then the version of her on the battlefield turns into its own CG monster form and they both explode. It’s at this point that you start wondering if this is a sequel to something since there seems to be a lot going on that you’ve just been dropped into. The next episode takes us back in time where four cadets, Misaki, Luxandra, Suzanna & Kiri are being sent to some kind of space station to join a military force s potential replacements for its retiring Commander. We then spend all the episodes except for the very last one getting to the point where we started.
Let’s talk about non-linear story telling for a moment, shall we? In a good non-linear story there are plenty of sources of tension that might get hinted at, but won’t be spoiled and there’s a compelling reason why they story works better when told in a non-linear fashion. A perfect example is the classic novel, Catch-22. There’s also A Prayer for Owen Meany. Even Venus Versus Virus managed to use its non-linear elements decently. So, with that in mind let’s look at what this series accomplishes by putting the twelfth episode chronologically at the beginning. It successfully destroys all sense of tension in the series. That’s basically it. The main attempts at tension throughout the series are the mystery surrounding just what kind of mysterious power Misaki has that these shady scientists are interested in. Which we already know involves turning into a giant CG monster so that plot line quickly becomes very stale and predictable. They also try to have tension involving whether Misaki will survive various scenarios and whether she’ll stay with the team when she considers quitting. But we already know that she’ll live and stay with them because we saw her in the first episode, which takes place after all of this stuff. It isn’t even tense about whether or not her comrades will survive since we see most of the ones who are going into danger in that first episode, alive and well. They also try to have an emotional moment involving the death of a character. Except that they talked about her being dead in the first episode so you were expecting it by the time it happens and it does nothing.
The gross misuse of non-linear narrative isn’t all that’s wrong with the story telling in this either. The pacing is awful. We get long stretches where nothing of value happens and a bunch of pointless flashbacks that are there solely to give you information that you already know or to spell out information that was already obvious. They just assume their audience is a bit thick and needs the help. The ending is also pretty rubbish. I will say, to Divergence Eve’s credit, there are some concepts with potential here. If the execution was competent they could have led to some decent stuff.
The characters in this are a group of stock tropes without much in terms of originality,personality or development. They aren’t the worst group of characters. None of them are egregiously annoying or anything like that. They’re just a boring group.
I do want to talk a bit about the character death that they spoil in the first episode. It is a really bad idea to open a new series telling you that a certain character will die. Not just because it lessens the impact, but because it’s really difficult to get the audience invested in a character when they know that they aren’t going to last. It certainly requires better writing than is on display here. You want to give your audience time with that character and reasons to care about them. A good example is the excellent western cartoon Beast Wars. They pretty heavily foreshadow a particular character’s death and it culminates in the greatest episode of any Transformers series ever, Code of Hero. But by the time the foreshadowing starts you know this character really well, he may even be your favourite character. You have the investment and that gives the scene impact. In this, you know the character is going to die before you’ve heard her speak and the series does nothing to develop her. As such, you don’t bother getting invested in her and her eventual demise means nothing.
You may remember last October when I talked about the Galerians OVA and its CG artwork that looked like it was from an early Playstation title. Divergence Eve suffers from a similar problem. They use CG artwork for the monsters, action sequences and some tech shots and it’s roughly on par with the CG in Galerians. It’s awkward, stiff, blocky and just looks laughably ludicrous. Although, this series has plenty of scenes that use more traditional animation too. Incidentally, there is a major problem with those scenes as well. Namely that this series is almost as bad about shamelessly using exploitative fan-service as Highschool of the Dead was. The female characters, save the android, look almost Liefeldian in their proportions. They have massively over-sized bosoms and overly thin waists that don’t look like they could house internal organs. They aren’t quite as bad as Liefeld’s abominations, though. Since they have pupils and don’t constantly stand awkwardly on their tip toes.
Radix did get some talented actresses for this. Kakazu Yumi (the voice of Yuffie and Aizawa Mint) takes the lead as Misaki. We’ve also got Kiuchi Reiko, Koyasu Takehito, & Kobayashi Sanae among others. But this is one of those series where they don’t have much to work with so the characters sound pretty generic in spite of the talent behind them. The music is also pretty mediocre.
There might be a bit. It’s hard to judge because the character interactions are so listless. The girls certainly spend more time with each other than they do with any blokes and they seem to like each other more. There’s also a line from Suzanna that may indicate that she has romantic feelings for Misaki.
Divergence Eve is tripe. It’s a bad action series that had some good ideas that they didn’t feel like doing anything interesting with. The artwork is pretty awful, the characters are dull and any story moments that could have had an impact are ruined by the baffling way they elected to make the story non-linear and butchered the execution. That being said, I have seen a lot worse. It’s bad, certainly, but it’s not horrible. As such, My final rating is a 3/10. It’s kind of sad because I had a bit of a combo going with three good anime, Death Parade, Nanoha A’s & Love Live, in a row. Next week I’ll look at Ice. So, that should be good fun for everybody. Although, I haven’t started it yet so it may very well turn out to not be fun for me. We’ll see how that works out.